Hallé Orchestra celebrating 150th anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams and three other events you won’t want to miss at The Bridgewater Hall

For classical music enthusiasts, those who are curious, or even people looking for a new way to spend their evenings in Manchester, the Hallé has something for everyone as they transition from their Spring Season to the next phase of the year, ensuring they end the season on a high note. The Hallé is now wrapping up with some of the biggest events of the year so far and has the perfect way to end a successful run; by celebrating several important figures in musical history and even its own roots as a Manchester institution.

In the next few months, the itinerary reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the classical music world, with the likes of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky in the line-up- and while you may not recognize the names, the music will certainly be some of the most recognizable in the world, played live across several of the Hallé’s most iconic venues. Whether you’re uninitiated in the world of classical music or an expert in the field, the beauty of these concerts is that they can be enjoyed by everybody.

One of the upcoming highlights is the RVW150 symphony cycle ‘Toward the Unknown Region’ which is a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, and the cycle is a collaboration with the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic. These two critically acclaimed orchestras have combined once again to present a complete cycle of Vaughan Williams’ symphonies. Attendees will have the unique and rare opportunity to experience the magic of two exceptional orchestras, for what promises to be a truly breath-taking event.

Bridgewater Hall is one of the Hallé’s primary venues

The final concert of the Spring Season also promises to be spectacular; with a semi-staged performance of Madama Butterfly. Featuring the incredible vocals from soprano Eri Nakamura, who has previously captivated audiences at Covent Garden, the show will be the perfect ending to a successful season, and a great way to usher in the excitement of the next one.

RVW150 symphony cycle ‘Toward the Unknown Region’

The remaining Vaughan Williams symphonies to be performed are some of his most iconic pieces, and bring to an end an amazing celebration of 150 years since his birth. Beginning at the end, on Saturday, April 21, at 7.30pm the Hallé will be performing Vaughan Williams ninth and final symphony and Holst’s The Planets, which is a hugely popular piece of music.

Next up is Vaughan Williams Sixth Symphony and Sea Symphony on Saturday, April 30, at 7.30pm. The juxtaposition of these two symphonies makes the evening one of two halves; the Sixth with its fast pace and A Sea Symphony which is a choral symphony featuring the Hallé Choir and Youth Choir. Joining the Hallé Choir are soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, Song Award winner of the 2021 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, making her Hallé debut, and Roderick Williams, described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘our greatest living baritone.’

Finishing the RVW150 symphony cycle is a piece that is close to the heart of the Hallé, a rendition of To Glorious John (Symphony No.8) on Thursday, May 12, at 7.30pm. Former Hallé Music Director Sir John Barbirolli conducted the Hallé at the premiere of Vaughan William’s Symphony No.8 at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester on May 2, 1956. The composer inscribed the manuscript, “For Glorious John, with love and admiration from Ralph “as a thank you, and the published score is headed “Dedicated to Sir John Barbirolli”.

Sir Mark Elder, Director of the Hallé
Sir Mark Elder, Director of the Hallé

Chamber Concert at Hallé St Peter’s

Although part of the RVW150 symphony cycle, the Phantasy Quintet will be a different concert entirely, as it’s being performed as part of the Chamber Music Sessions in the intimate venue of Hallé St Peter’s. The building is a magnificently restored former church in the heart of Ancoats, and lets audience members get closer to the music.

On Sunday, May 15, attendees will not only be able to hear the Vaughan Williams Phantasy Quintet, but also Mozart’s String Quintet and the world premiere of Hallé violinist Tiberiu Buta’s new work. The event is perfect for those looking for an intimate evening, including an exclusive insight into the pieces themselves, as the musicians speak directly to the audience to introduce the music, and offer their thoughts on the piece.

Beethoven’s Third Symphony ‘Eroica’

Bridgewater Hall is a beautiful venue to spend an evening
Bridgewater Hall is a beautiful venue to spend an evening

Perhaps one of the most well-known highlights of Beethoven’s work, the Hallé is performing the Third Symphony ‘Eroica’ alongside Berlioz’s Overture: Le carnaval romain and Schumann’s Cello Concerto, between Wednesday, April 6 – Sunday, April 10. The concerts are conducted by Kristiina Poska, Chief Conductor of the Flanders Symphony Orchestra, who is directing the Hallé for the first time. In Schumann’s romantically lyrical Cello Concerto, written in a fortnight’s burst of inspiration, she’s joined by the orchestra’s principal cello, Nicholas Trygstad.

Beethoven’s piece will round the concert off, and the bold piece of music is still as prevalent and as daring as ever, making it easy to see why it changed the course of music history. Criticized at first for its length, Beethoven retorts: “If I write a symphony an hour long it will be found short enough.”

Bruch Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony

Running between Wednesday, May 18, to Sunday, May 22, Jamie Phillips, former Hallé Associate Conductor will be leading the orchestra in a rendition of two very recognizable classical pieces, Bruch Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, featuring the talent of acclaimed violinist Sophia Jaffe. The concert will also celebrate the work of Grace Williams, one the leading Welsh composers of the last century, playing her four-movement symphonic poem Penillion.

Bridgewater Hall will play host to a number of events for the upcoming months
Bridgewater Hall will play host to a number of events for the upcoming months

Lady Butterfly

During Sir Mark Elder’s tenure as Music Director, the Hallé’s semi-staged operas have become the stuff of legends; he’s long wanted to perform with the orchestra what he feels is Puccini’s greatest score Madama Butterfly, and it promises to be the perfect way to end the season. Surprisingly the opera wasn’t a hit when it was first released but it soon became an essential part of the repertoire of opera houses worldwide.

Broken into three acts, it is a story of love, loss and betrayal, with a tragic heroine at the core of the narrative. Her aria Un bel di vedremo, and the Humming Chorus are two of the opera’s glorious and most well-known inspirations. The event is taking place on Saturday, May 28, at 6pm, and will herald the end of the Hallé Spring Season, making way for a just as successful summer run.

For more information on the upcoming events, visit the Hallé’s website, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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